What is a Cisco Certified Network Associate?

Anyone interested in the information technology field has likely heard of the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. As a leading networking equipment manufacturer, Cisco has created the popular CCNA program to certify the industry’s computer network engineers. Since 1998, the CCNA program has set the competency standards required by professionals who install and support medium-sized network systems. Being a Cisco Certified Network Associate ensures employers that IT specialists know how to configure, organize, and troubleshoot routed networks, including using WAN. According to Indeed, the median yearly salary for CCNA certification holders is $82,000. Network engineers earn an average income increase of 20 percent by pursuing CCNA. The following is an overview of everything you should know about the Cisco Certified Network Associate program.

Different Kinds of CCNA Certifications

Cisco has a five-tier certification system, in which the CCNA falls within the associate-level tier above entry-level yet below professional. Starting in 2013, the company expanded the program to cover various facets of network administration. The result is eight different specialized types of CCNA certifications. Individuals can now become a Cisco Certified Network Associate in Cloud, Collaboration, Data Center, Industrial, Routing and Switching, Security, Service Provider, or Wireless. The Video and Voice certifications were retired in 2015. Each CCNA certification is designed to align with a particular in-demand IT role. For instance, the CCNA Cloud option focuses on technology transitions to mobile computing and XaaS services.

How to Become a Cisco Certified Network Associate

Earning your CCNA certification will require passing at least the 90-minute written core examination about networking devices. The CCNA Industrial, Security, and Wireless options mandate passing a prerequisite test at the CCENT level first. There’s no specific degree requirements, but having a bachelor’s in computer science, information technology, or network administration will be helpful. Certain colleges offer CCNA preparation programs. Cisco also publishes CCNA self-study materials and practice exams. Depending on the specialty, you’ll have to pay a $250 to $300 Cisco Certified Network Associate fee. If you pass the exam, the CCNA remains valid for three years until re-certification is necessary. It’s also possible to advance to the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) level.

Careers Available with CCNA Designation

Having the letters CCNA after your name usually translates into excellent job offers with above-average salaries. Cisco Certified Network Associates can apply for various IT positions based on their experience and education. Most CCNA professionals work as network administrators, network engineers, systems engineers, software developers, and computer architects. IT security analyst is another in-demand CCNA job with projected job growth by 18 percent through 2024. With time, Cisco Certified Network Associates could advance into titles like IT director and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Basically any business, including government agencies, telecommunications carriers, and financial institutions, using Cisco routers will prefer CCNA candidates.

Related Resource: Chief Compliance Officer

Overall, the Cisco Certified Network Associate program is recognized as a leading IT credential that supports professionals’ knowledge of computer network structures. CCNA certification validates to employers that you’re capable of operating Cisco networks with accuracy. LAN, WAN, IP, and OSPF are among the alphabets included within CCNA training. Passing makes certain you’re equipped with the skills to design, build, and monitor communication networks for computer infrastructure. Although it’s still voluntary, obtaining the Cisco Certified Network Associate designation can significantly uplift the careers of IT specialists.